Lefties propel St. Paul back and Somers to Class S baseball final

St. Paul's Foley Ks 14 in 'redemption' game; Wood puts Somers into first final since 1984

MIDDLETOWN — Brendan Foley admittedly didn’t pitch his best in a Class S championship loss to Coginchaug last year. 

This was where he was going to redeem himself.

Foley, a left-handed senior headed to Salve Regina, pitched one of the best games of his distinguished career in St. Paul’s 7-0 Class S semifinal victory over Immaculate at Palmer Field. 

He allowed just four hits over 6 1/3 innings and struck out 14 to assure his team got another crack at winning  the state championship. 

“It was a heartbreaking loss for us in the finals last year,” Foley said of his team’s 8-0 loss to Coginchaug in the S final. “But I think that’s what really fueled us to get here. 

“That’s what fueled me to pitch good today. I didn’t pitch well in the finals. So I wanted to come out here and get my redemption and just get our boys back to the championship.”

St. Paul (25-1), the tournament’s top seed whose only loss this year was to Woodland in the NVL tournament semifinals, will face No. 3-seeded Somers, which defeated Oxford 9-3 to reach its first final since 1984, back here at Palmer on Saturday at 7 p.m.

“They set the goal early for us,” St. Paul coach Victor Rinaldi said. “As a matter of fact, they said it on the bus ride home. It was a quiet bus ride home, but the returners all said we’re going to get back next year and five ourselves an opportunity to win it.

“And they did. They did a really nice job. I’m proud of them.”

Foley struck out nine batters over the first three innings, each after surrendering a hit or a walk. 

His teammates, meanwhile, jumped on Immaculate sophomore lefty and St. John’s commit Tommy Conley early. Ryan Daniels, Casey Cerruto and Jamie Leggett each had RBI singles in the first inning to stake St. Paul to a 4-0 lead. 

“We kind of had a feeling he would start. We did our homework on him,” Rinaldi said of Conley. “We had some really good approaches on him early.

"Getting the four set the tone for us early and, as a pitcher, you get four in the bottom of the first it settles you down. (Foley) settled in and pitched a great game. He’s had a great year for us.”

Though Conley settled down, St. Paul eventually tacked on two more runs in the fifth on back-to-back RBIs by Cerruto and Joey Tonnotti. He 

Only Immaculate’s Wyatt Jarboe seemed to have an answer for Foley. After a walk and a single earlier, his one-out triple in the seventh prevented Foley from throwing a complete game. 

“We had our chances,” Immaculate coach Dean White said. “We tried to scratch and claw but their pitcher was efficient and their catcher did a good job limiting our running game. A few bounces go our way in that first inning, maybe we get out of that and make it a different ball game. But that’s not how it shook out for us today.”

Somers reaches first final since 1984

In the first game, No, 3-seeded Somers hammered Oxford, 9-3, jumping on Oxford pitcher Justin Black for nine runs (seven earned) over four innings and cruised to their first state championship appearance since 1984.

Despite that long drought, Somers coach Jim Coleman said playing for a state title was the goal from the beginning.

“I pulled the seniors off to the side and said: What do you want to get out of this season?” Coleman said. “We wanted a conference (NCCC) title, and we fell short by one game there, but we really wanted this one.”

Junior captain Colby McCormick was 4-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. Senior Cody Palazzesi was 3-for-4, including a two-run double that sparked a four-run first inning. Somers had 14 hits overall.

Oxford, meanwhile, had no answers for Roger Williams-bound lefthander Kaede Wood, who allowed just two hits and struck out seven through five innings. He also helped himself with an RBI and two runs scored.

“It’s huge,” Wood said of playing for a state championship. “We’re a group of guys who’ve been playing together since we were 10-years old. Travel ball. Little League… Ffor us to do this and make something special for our senior year… it’s a really big moment for us.”

Coleman though he might save Wood, but ultimately decided to start him against an Oxford team known for swiping bases.

“Any time we have Kaede on the mound we feel good,” Coleman said. “He’s our ace. We knew, as a lefty, they’d have trouble running on him. And they did.”

The Wolverines, which took out NVL champion Holy Cross en route to its first state semifinal appearance since winning it all in 2013, ends its season 18-8.

“Kaede Wood definitely took us out of our game,” Oxford coach Dom Merole said. “He’s a really good pitcher. His pitches seemed to be moving as they were crossing the plate. And we had a tough time doing anything on the bases on him.”

Oxford was able to rally for three runs against Palazzesi in the sixth, but the Spartans ended the game when right-fielder Alex Maia threw out a runner at third base.

“I think we kind of got caught in the moment a little bit,”  Merole said. “I think that was part of the issue we ran into. I don’t think it changes the great year that Justin had, I don’t think it changes anything that our season that our guys had. They fought all year.”

SOMERS 9, OXFORD 3

OXFORD   000 003 0        — 3 5 3 
SOMERS  410 400 x       — 9 14 2

O — Justin Black (L), Ethan Coleman (4)  and Joe Matusovich; S — Kaede Wood-l (W, 9-1), Cody Palazzesi (6) and Alex Grenier.

ST. PAUL 7, IMMACULATE 0

IMMACULATE      000 000 0 — 0 4 1
ST. PAUL        400 021 x — 7 8 1

I—Tommy Conley (L), Joe Gunzy (5), JT Gunzy (6) and Tom Pilla; SP—Brendan Foley, Jamie Leggett (7) and Casey Cerruto.